The responsibility for the Texas Enterprise Fund scandal that broke open earlier this week initially appeared limited to actions taken by Governor Rick Perry and those who work on his behalf. New information, however, makes it clear that Greg Abbott also had a hand in over $200 million dollars in taxpayer funds being transferred to Abbott/Perry friends and allies who never appropriately applied for the funds nor provided required justification for receiving taxpayer support.
State Law Requires Abbott to Act
Clear provisions in state law require Greg Abbott – as State Attorney General – to not only provide oversight to prevent the improper transfer of state funds to unqualified companies, individuals or organizations, but also call on him to investigate, prosecute and recover any funds improperly transferred and/or obtained.
The most direct mandate comes from the state Government Code which reads plainly:
Sec. 402.026. INSPECTION OF ACCOUNTS. At least monthly the attorney general shall inspect the accounts of the offices of the comptroller and each other person responsible for collection or custody of state funds. The attorney general shall immediately bring or cause to be brought an action to recover state funds in the hands of a person in default or arrears and shall immediately begin criminal proceedings against a person who has illegally applied or retained state funds.
This law was originally enacted in 1879, but it was amended and renewed several times since then, most recently 1997, so it is apparent that the Legislature intended for it to be enforced.
Greg Abbott has done nothing to fulfill this direct legal mandate. He has never inspected payments approved by the Texas Enterprise Fund and made by the State Comptroller, nor has he ever investigated or recovered TEF funds improperly obtained. Even as the scandal unfolds, Abbott has been silent and has failed to take any action to recover taxpayer funds.
Dragging Kids and Schools through Court while giving Abbott/Perry friends a free pass
For months, Greg Abbott has used twisted logic and outright lies to justify his relentless defense of a $5 billion cut in Texas public school funding and to keep over 600 public school districts bogged down in expensive courtroom litigation. Just last week in the gubernatorial debate Abbott lied outright by saying state law compelled him to continue arguing against Texas public schools in state court. Meanwhile, Abbott is ignoring state law that clearly mandates that he provide oversight for funds like those approved by the Texas Enterprise Fund and require him to take action to recover funds improperly obtained.
Wendy Davis reform bill exposed Abbott/Perry TEF Scandal
The improper payment of over $200 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund became public only because of legislation written and passed by Senator Wendy Davis. Her bill, Senate Bill 1390 which became law in 2013, required an audit of TEF accounts. The audit under the Davis bill revealed millions of dollars in improper payments. The question now is whether Greg Abbott will do his statutory duty and initiate criminal proceedings to prosecute and recover this massive misappropriation of public funds.